Our Guide to the Nord Keyboards range - which Nord is right for me? * Updated with new Nord Stage 4!*
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Our Guide to the Nord Keyboards range - which Nord is right for me? * Updated with new Nord Stage 4!*

The Nord range is structured differently from many manufacturers - it doesn't follow a good/better/best model. To decide on the most suitable Nord keyboard for you there are two main questions you need to ask.

What sounds do you predominantly play?
Think do I mostly play Piano, Organ or Synth, or a combination of the above. That’s because every series in the Nord range is targeted to suit specific needs and...

What type of keybed would suit me?  
Think, in terms of both size and weight, all the way from synth actions to Hammer Actions. That’s because the Electro and Stage Series have multiple keybed options to best suit your playing style or perhaps portability needs.

This guide is intended to give an overview of all your options and ultimately help you decide which Nord is right for you, but first of all a very brief look at why to choose Nord in the first place!

Why choose Nord?

Designed specifically for the live player

Nord’s very clear mission is to build instruments for the gigging musician. That means robust, reliable, lightweight and portable, designed to be easy to use quickly, and of course, with incredible sound. It is no surprise that you see so many musicians around the world using Nords live -it is because they are both beautiful sounding instruments and professional tools.  Every instrument is handmade in Sweden - you can take a peek inside the factory in Stockholm in this video. Also bear in mind Nord have no artist endorsement policy - everything you see being used is because the keyboardist has chosen to do so.

Intuitive front-panel

At first glance a Nord front panel may appear complicated - perhaps especially the Stage since it has the most features - but once you understand the thinking behind it you’ll find it’s simplicity itself.  First of all you’ll see the panel is very clearly divided into sections - for example, Piano/Organ/Global/Synth/Effects.  And the reason it looks full of knobs and buttons is because, very deliberately, no major function is hidden in a menu  - everything you need to see or adjust live is on the front panel for you to access instantly, with LEDs too so you can see it on a dark stage. Anyone who plays live will know that delving through a menu is the last thing you want to be doing on stage!

All sounds can be updated - for free - for years to come

This is a major Nord feature that’s not immediately obvious on first glance. Nord's built-in piano samples and presets are also all user-replaceable and updatable. New pianos and samples are regularly added to the exclusive Nord libraries and all are free to download. There are no extra costs for new sounds. All of the Programs can be re-arranged in any order you want and you can store your programs anywhere you want, too. You can even create and add your own custom samples using Nord's free Sample Editor software. A Nord keyboard is therefore an instrument that is not out of date the moment you purchase, it can be updated and customised over many years to come to suit any live situation you may find yourself in.

You can read more about the Nord Sound Manager Software via our dedicated blog here

The sound!

But all of these features would count for nothing if the instrument didn’t sound good. So many Nord users purchase them simply because of the sound that they produce. From classic organs through to electric pianos, clavs, beautiful acoustic grands and uprights to Mellotrons and vintage synthesisers, the Nord range of keyboards all offer exceptional quality and authenticity in sound.  

And that authenticity often includes maintaining the original character of an instrument. Nord make a point of keeping their instruments sounding as realistic as possible by sampling or modelling the originals, warts-and-all. Other manufacturers may clean up or embellish their instruments but this gives a false impression of what that instrument actually really sounded like. Nord owners are drawn to the gritty realism that some of the Nord instruments provide, as they are a refreshing change from the sanitised, homogenous sounds of other keyboards. Check out some of their honky upright pianos or the gnarly old Nefertiti Rhodes Piano as examples of this philosophy. Of course, you always have the built in effects and eq on the front panel to fine tune them to your specific requirements.

Therefore, with Nord keyboards, you have the best of both worlds – great sounding pianos, electric pianos, strings, organs and synths, plus the authentic character of some specific original instruments too.

So which Nord is right for me?

The Nord range of instruments cater for every musician. Whatever style or genre of music you play, there is a Nord keyboard for you - each one is designed for a specific role. As we said in the introduction, there isn't a good/better/best model. Nord's philosophy is that you buy the product that is best suited to your own particular requirements so you are never paying any extra for functionality that you do not need. Even the keybeds in the instruments are designed to match different styles of playing, allowing you to fine-tune your choice.

So, let’s take a look at the Nord product range to give you a clearer idea of what all the instruments can do and you can see which Nord would be best suited for you.

The Nord Piano 5

The Nord Piano 5 is aimed at the musician who simply wants great sounding acoustic and electric pianos. The two Piano sections on the front panel allow you to create individual Piano sounds or combine them together as a layer of two pianos or split the keybed and have a different piano sound in each half. The Piano 5 also has two  Sample Synth sections, providing you with strings and pads and any other sound that isn’t a piano. These can also be split and layered and combined with the Piano sections, all via a straightforward layout. It is compatible with the Nord Piano and Sample Libraries, so can be expanded at any time, and the front panel has some easily tweakable effects and EQ.

Perhaps most importantly the Piano 5 also features Nord’s triple sensor virtual hammer action keybed which makes it incredibly responsive to your touch. It also comes with the Nord Triple Pedal as standard. No frills, just a sublime stage piano.

The Nord Grand

The Nord Grand features an exclusively customised Kawai Hammer Action keybed. This new triple sensor keybed incorporates sensors that track the hammer action itself, rather than the keys, which adds even more dynamics and realism to the playing experience. Pianos just seem to 'breathe' when played on the Grand. 

The new bespoke wooden case adds a retro boutique profile to the Grand so it would look cool sitting in any studio, on stage or at home. At 20Kg, it is only 1/2 Kg heavier than the Stage 3 so is still easily portable enough for live use. It can sit on the optional Stand EX legs or the wooden keyboard stand. The new Nord Piano Monitors can also be added and mount directly to the unit.

Read what Sound on Sound Magazine had to say when they reviewed the Nord Grand earlier this year in their January Issue.

Where to Buy the Nord Grand in the UK

Nord Keyboards Nord Grand Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Gear4Music Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Promenade Music Rimmers

The Nord Electro Series

The Nord Electro 6 Series is predominantly aimed at the Electro Mechanical type of instruments, combining both organ and piano. But, like the Piano 5, it also has a Sample/Synth section which allows you to load in synth sounds, strings and brass too. The Electro 6 range is three-part multi-timbral so you can split the keyboard into two zones or layer all three sections on it. 

The ‘6D’ models come with physical drawbars (that's what the 'D' refers to) and the 6HP version features the digital LED ladder-strip drawbars. 

The Electro 6 series comes in different size keybeds and different style keybeds too. This is important because you might be an organ player who just needs piano sounds occasionally, so the Electro 6D 61 or 73 comes with the traditional organ-style waterfall keybed. 

However, if you are primarily a piano player who sometimes needs organ sounds then the Electro 6 HP has a weighted keybed that replicates the Rhodes electric piano feel. Again, this is Nord creating instruments for your specific needs. 

Where to Buy the Nord Electro in the UK

Nord Keyboards Nord Electro 6D 73 A & C Hamilton Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Promenade Music Rimmers

The Nord Wave 2

Image title

The latest offering from Nord Keyboards, the Wave 2 Performance Synthesizer.

With four independent synthesizers in one, the Nord Wave 2 is Nord's most powerful and versatile live performance synthesizer ever.

The Nord Wave 2 is a powerful 4-part performance synthesizer combining Virtual Analog synthesis, Samples, FM and Wavetable with an intuitive layer-focused interface. With 48 voice polyphony, innovative performance features and hands-on controls, the Nord Wave 2 offers outstanding sonic possibilities with advanced layering and tweaking on the fly.

Read about our exclusive first look at the Wave 2 here, or go in-depth with our semi-tutorial blog here

Where to Buy the Nord Wave 2 in the UK

Nord Keyboards Nord Wave 2 Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Gear4Music Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Promenade Music Rimmers

The Nord Lead A1

Image titleThe Nord Lead A1 is an incredible sounding analogue modelling synth but with a streamlined front panel to make the creative process quick and easy. 

It is four-part multi-timbral, allowing you to create some incredibly fat sounds or complicated modulations by stacking your sounds together and has separate outputs for each of the synth layers. Even the effects sections are independent per layer. Essentially, the Lead A1 is like having four separate synths all in one instrument.

Where to Buy the Nord Lead A1 in the UK

Nord Keyboards Nord Lead A1 Absolute Music Andertons Gear4Music Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Professional Music Technology Promenade Music

The Nord Stage 4 Series

OK, all of those instruments sound great but can you get organ, piano, synth and sampling all in one instrument? Yes – if you want it all then there is the Nord Stage 4 Series. This is the flagship of the Nord product range featuring Organ, Piano, Synth and sampling capabilities, all in one incredible workhorse.

With up to 7 simultaneous sound layers, and intuitive hands-on control of all key parameters, the Stage Series is the ultimate keyboard for the performing musician.

Piano, Organ and Synth sections deliver an incredible array of world-class sounds, with its powerful Effects section offering the versatility of independent FX for each layer within a Program.

The synth section has three layers for all your synth and sample requirements, and any of these can also be switched to control external MIDI devices, making the Stage 4 ideal as the hub of your live set up.

The keyboard itself can be split into four separate zones, allowing you to combine internal and external sounds in any way you want.

The Stage 4 incorporates the classic mod wheel and pitch stick controls, and these, combined with Nord’s ingenious Morph functionality, makes the Stage 4 a truly powerful performance tool.

The Stage 4 comes in 3 models, all featuring premium Triple-Sensor-equipped keybeds –  the Stage 4 88 and Stage 4 73 with 88-note and 73-note hammer action keybeds,  and Stage 4 Compact with a 73-note semi-weighted waterfall keybed.

Where to Buy the Nord Stage in the UK

Nord Keyboards Stage 4 88 Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Gear4Music Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Promenade Music Rimmers
Nord Keyboards Stage 4 73 Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Gear4Music Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Promenade Music Rimmers
Nord Keyboards Stage 4 Compact Absolute Music Andertons Bonners Gear4Music Guitar Guitar Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Promenade Music

The Nord Drum 3P

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As well as making keyboards, Nord also make the Nord Drum 3P. This is a drum synthesiser and has many applications such as supplementing a drummer’s arsenal with great electronic and percussive sounds, or for use in the studio where you can create your own unique drum sounds in the same way you would create sounds on a synthesiser. 

The pads are highly sensitive and provide an incredibly dynamic range of control over your sounds but the footprint is still small enough to fit in and around a drum kit. The included bracket allows the Drum 3P to be easily mounted on a drum stand.

Where to Buy the Nord Drum 3P in the UK

Nord Keyboards Nord Drum 3P Absolute Music Andertons Gear4Music Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Music Matter Professional Music Technology Rimmers

It's All in the Feel

Nord go to great lengths to replicate the sounds of all those classic instruments and synthesisers, even deliberately including all the strange quirks and foibles that give the original instruments their character. 

However, the accuracy of an instrument’s sound is not just down to the noise it makes. It has to feel like the real thing too when you play it. The type of keybed makes a big difference to the way you play an instrument and can really enhance your performance. 

It's likely that your keybed preference will influence your choice of Nord keyboard.

Image title

Understanding the six keybeds used in Nord instruments.

1. Synth-weighted

The standard synth-weighted keybed that you would find in any vintage synthesiser. This keybed is found on both the Nord Lead 4 and the Lead A1.


2. Semi-Weighted Waterfall (SW)

At first glance the waterfall keybed looks like the weighted keybed. However you will notice that the keys do not have a lip at the front edge like the weighted keys do – they have a flat front, hence the term ‘waterfall’. Also, the black keys slope away from you rather than having a flat plane. 

The waterfall keybed is semi weighted and is the same type of keybed you would find on the majority of the vintage electro mechanical instruments. This is a deliberate design feature to give you the feel of those original instruments when you play. They are more robust then a non weighted keybed but they won’t shred your knuckles when performing an organ gliss. The waterfall keybed features on the C2D as well as the Electro 6D 61 and 73 and the Stage 3 Compact. And it has been included on the new Wave 2 synthesiser as well.

The way a key triggers a sound also affects performance. On an organ, the sound is instantaneous the moment the key is pressed. But, on a piano, the sound is heard once the string has been struck and this occurs as the key reaches the bottom of it’s descent. In the Nord keyboards that incorporate both Organ and Piano sounds, the keys have sensors at the top and bottom of each key so that you get the correct response, depending on whether you are playing organ or piano.


3. Hammer Portable (HP)

The fourth keybed is unique to the Electro 6 HP and the Stage 3 76HP. It looks like a weighted keybed but it feels slightly different when played. This is because the weights are positioned at the top end of each key under the front panel, rather than in the traditional location under the key itself. This is partly to give the correct feel of a Rhodes style piano, where the key would come up and strike the tines from underneath, but it also means that the weights are slightly smaller to reduce the overall weight of the instrument, hence the name ‘portable’.


4. Hammer Action (HA)

The hammer action keybed is the fully weighted piano-key version and features in the Stage 3 HA88.

5. Triple-Sensor Grand Hammer Action

The Piano 5 88 and 73 note models features this advanced triple sensor Hammer Action keybed aimed specifically at the piano player. The addition of a third sensor on each key makes it a much more responsive and dynamic keybed to play. Ideally suited for accurately reproducing the feel and versatility of an acoustic piano.

6. Kawai Responsive Hammer Keybed with Ivory Touch

This advanced keybed is designed by Kawai, exclusively customised for Nord, and is unique to the Nord Grand. Like the Piano 5, it is a triple sensor keybed but here its sensors track the action of the hammers rather than the keys. This provides an incredibly dynamic, even more authenticate playing experience. The keys themselves also have an ivory feel to the touch.


Nord have designed a range of accessories to complement and enhance their instruments.

We wrote a fantastic blog which breaks down all the accessories currently available to help you find the one you need. Read more right here

Legacy Products

To round off, we thought we would just mention a couple of popular models in the legacy range. Although discontinued, you may still see these instruments around, or they may be something that fits your specific requirements so it might be worth checking out the second-hand market to see if you can find one.

The Nord C2D

Image titleThe C2D organ is for the organ aficionado. This is a dual manual keyboard with physical drawbars, based on the B3 design. Naturally, it has the B3 sound but the C2D also includes Vox Continental and Farfisa organ models too. 

If you are a conventional or classical organ player then you will be pleased to hear that it also features a Baroque pipe organ sound too. Nord’s Pedal Keys 27 can also be added for full classic organ control. So, if you desire the ultimate portable organ solution, then the C2D is the instrument for you.

Here's a few C2D videos to check out:

Nord Lead 4

Image titleThe Nord Lead 4 is a fully-fledged analogue modelling synth with oscillators, LFOs, filters and an arpeggiator to recreate all those classic synth sounds. Its interface is a traditional synth layout.

Like the Lead A1, it is four-part multi-timbral,with separate outputs per layer. It is designed for the synth player who requires more individual controls, so that they can edit sounds in finer detail.

For more information on the Nord Keyboard range, please visit our Nord Product page

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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.